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Blackburn Rovers links with 25-year-old seem strange now, but player situations could mean they soon make sense: Opinion

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If you to were look at Blackburn Rovers’ squad list at this moment in time, it is highly unlikely that you would say central defence is the area they most need to add to at this moment in time.

Admittedly, Rovers did find themselves rather exposed in that position in the back to back defeats they suffered in their final two games before the international break.

That however, was more down to fitness issues among their centre backs, rather than a lack of options in their squad in that position.

Captain Darragh Lenihan, as well as Scott Wharton and Brighton loanee Jan Paul van Hecke were all unavailable for those games, leaving Rovers with only Daniel Ayala and the young duo of Hayden Carter and Tyler Magloire, as centre backs with any genuine experience of senior football.

As a result, when all of those are fit, it is fair to say that manager Tony Mowbray has a decent number of options to call upon to form his central defensive pairing this season.

With that in mind, recent transfer rumours to have emerged around the club do seem to be slightly strange.

Over the weekend, it was reported that Blackburn, along with Championship rivals Stoke City, are interested in a move for Hearts centre back John Souttar.

As things stand, Souttar  is out of contract at his current club in the summer, meaning Rovers could potentially secure a pre-contract agreement for the 25-year-old once the window reopens in January.

However, given the dearth of options Rovers already have at centre back when fit, you have to wonder whether that is a move they would need to make at that point.

Indeed, it is also worth remembering that Blackburn failed to bring in another striker to replace the departed Adam Armstrong in the summer, while Ben Brereton’s form for club and country means there will inevitably in the attacker in January as well.

In midfield meanwhile, Joe Rothwell, who like Brereton is in the final year of his current Blackburn contract, is reportedly attracting interest from Rangers, meaning you get the feeling that central defence and a move for Souttar, may not need to be a priority for Rovers come the January window.

But it is worth remembering that things change quickly in football, and that may yet be the case here.

As things stand, both Lenihan and Magloire are out of contract at Ewood Park next summer, while van Hecke is only on loan from Brighton until the end of the season.

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If that was not to change, then Rovers could find themselves three centre backs down on their current options in that position, and were that to be the case, then they may well have to add to their options in that position come the summer.

Indeed, given the leadership qualities Lenihan possesses, and the dismal record Rovers have without him in the side – winning just four of 28 games he hasn’t featured in since the start of the 2018/19 season- the Irishman is one the club would simply have to find a strong replacement for were he not to sign a new deal.

Given the experience of leadership that Souttar has had during his time at Hearts, and the physical presence he would provide for Rovers’ backline, the 25-year-old is someone who could have the potential to help the void in defence, should Lenihan or others move on.

With plenty of time in his career to make that mark as well, Souttar does seem to be a suitable candidate to help strengthen Blackburn’s backline, in the event that contract situations with certain players do not improve in the coming months.

Considering the changes they may need to make to other of their squad as well, Blackburn fans will hope that strengthening their central defensive is not another job their side if left with in the windows to come.

If they are however, then they can at least take heart that the preparations they appear to be putting in place with this interest in Souttar, means they are giving themselves a foundation with which to do that.


UCLan Sports Journalism graduate, been writing for Football League World since March 2019. I've previously worked for the likes of Blackburn Rovers and Opta, among others.

ScoopDragon Football News Network

Article title: Blackburn Rovers links with 25-year-old seem strange now, but player situations could mean they soon make sense: Opinion

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